Affiliate marketing is a competitive space, that takes time, effort and of course dedication to get right. If you are looking to make a steady income from affiliate marketing, then you need to avoid a few rookie mistakes and have a firm grasp of the fundamentals before plunging in.
Harsh Agarwal, an affiliate marketing expert and the FountainHead at Shoutmeloud talks to the community on what works with affiliate marketing, what doesn’t and what you need to keep in mind to be successful. In case you missed out, here is a quick summary of the highlights of the conversation:
Q1. In your opinion, what is the one thing an affiliate marketer should use from day 1?
A key element in affiliate marketing is knowing how much business impact you bring via your influence. Since it directly impacts your commission, you need to have impeccable tracking and attribution in place. Google Tag manager and of course SEMrush are good places to start. But there are certain other pointers to incorporate.
A1 B) Use their affiliate code correctly on the site and in all communications#semrushchat
A1. Also important for affiliate marketers to have non-last click tracking in place ideally – especially if they’re the ones making the referral. #semrushchat
Link Cloaking Technique
All serious and genuine affiliate marketers protect their affiliate links – making it more visually attractive to the visitor while hiding their affiliate id. So, even with malware, these ids cannot be replaced by another affiliate id, thus safe-guarding your traffic and hence your commissions.
Link cloaking also helps you know how many clicks you have received via each URL, differentiates URL based on different locations, and most importantly allows you to edit the link in future. Considering these advantages, it would be really unwise to start out without link cloaking.
A1) Link cloaking Technique, that helps in…
✅Knowing how many clicks
✅Showing different URLs from different locations, and
✅ Editing the link in the future
…and is the most important thing every #Affiliatemarketer should use from day 1.
Clear Strategy and Goal
No marketing campaign can be a success without a clear set of goals and a strategy in place. Affiliate marketing is no different. You need to know what your ultimate goal is and how you plan to meet it.
It is highly recommended to have a dedicated webpage or microsite exclusively for you – so that each visitor gets some value-added information instead of simply being forced a sell. The more authority you build, after all, the better the chances of influencing the leads to convert.
Having such a website will also help you highlight your unique skill sets, and that could be the USP that sets you apart from competitors. Using paid search, you can further attract audiences to your website, instead of only from sites where you share your link. That could provide the extra mileage you need to win.
A1) In any affiliate program, make sure you’re not just selling the channel-but selling your skills with the tools available. Your skillset can’t be replicated. That’s your Unique Selling Proposition, and what separates you from the rest.#SEMrushchat
A1: In my opinion, they should have a strategy in place along with a dedicated micro site. I’m also a big believer in using paid search #semrushchat
A1 – A good website with value added content is capital. Transparency in revenue share model and in tracking are essential as well as a good tracking process and knowledge #GoogleTagManager is always a plus #semrushchat
Honesty With Your Target Audience
Don’t forget to tell your audience that it is indeed an affiliate program. Honesty and transparency in telling your leads what exactly you stand to gain every time they click your link will help build a relationship and win their trust.
A1: A disclosure! If you’re using any type of affiliate link, you have to include a disclosure stating that you stand to gain from someone clicking the link or making a purchase. #semrushchat
Once you have these basic elements set up, then you can get started with one affiliate deal. Focus on that, giving it your all and then slowly expand. In case you are wondering which areas to focus on – niches like software and even advice on gambling are quite popular and rewarding.
A1. A good blog to get you started and one googld affiliate deal and put your efforts into that then expand #SEMrushchat top niches are software and gambling
Q2. Do you think that it is possible to make affiliate marketing a part-time job? Why or why not?
Affiliate marketing has multiple advantages – it provides a recurring income that you can start earning in a relatively short span of time (1-2 months). With about 5 hours of work a week, you can definitely make decent revenue.
A2) Affiliate marketing is the most rewarding way to earn money online.
With 5 hours of work a week, one can earn a decent income in a quick span of time (1-2 months). It’s recurring income and the more time you put in, the more reward you can earn. #SEMRUShChat
Don’t get carried away by ‘get rich quick schemes’ or grand plans of expansion though. It is typically, better to market service or brands that you have a passion for so that you can be consistent and regular in your efforts to promote it.
A2: I think it can be, but you need to be realistic about your marketing efforts, avoid the “get rich quick schemes.” Marketing services, brands, products that you have a passion for and can devote time to creating a marketing strategy. #semrushchat
Remember that when you start out the income could be extremely inconsistent and rather undependable. Based on how you choose your commission, you may never know how much you get paid.
A2: There are people who make a great deal of money through affiliate marketing.
Personally, I wouldn’t like to solely rely on it because that’s inconsistent income every month. You never know exactly how much you’ll make. #semrushchat
A2 Yes – appears to be many people making a living from affiliate marketing.
– Unless they are making a living from posting about making a living from affiliate marketing.
The amount of revenue you generate can also depend upon the niche you have selected and the kind of affiliate scheme you have taken on. You can, of course, increase the revenue by putting more effort into your business. But a lot also depends upon the kind of content and the strategy you choose for it – to foster trust and build a relationship with your audience and only that can have long-term rewards.
A2: Affiliate marketing is a job. Can you do it part time? Sure, same as any other job. Although, if done well this can be a great investment of time which will reap fruits for much longer.
Content+strategy takes precedence on how long you reap fruits. #SEMrushchat
A2) Yes. Although it does depend on the niche, the availability of good affiliate schemes, the trust you engender in your readers and so on.
Personally, I’ve never made a sustainable income from my efforts.#semrushchat
#semrushchat Perfect timing. I just joined an affiliate marketing group on Facebook. A2. It should be part-time but it can be lucrative enough to be full. There’s a lot products/services to market. #marketing#digitalmarketing
An important thing to remember is that the amount of income you generate via affiliate marketing depends on your primary business value. Despite the many numbers of products to market or promote, if your basic value proposition is not lucrative enough, the affiliate marketing may also not be that big a hit.
A2: Yes, but its should be a secondary/ambient income, and your affiliate income should be dictated by your primary business value and correlation, so if its no good in the first place, that would follow through to affiliate #semrushchat@semrush@denharsh
Q3. What are the biggest mistakes people make when it comes to affiliate marketing? How can they overcome them?
Let’s face it – if affiliate marketing were easy, then everybody would be doing it and gaining spectacularly from it! The fact is that, though it looks simple, you can easily go wrong with it and fail. Here are a couple of details to watch out for:
Getting the Right Strategy in Place
You cannot just ‘wing it’. Before you jump in, you need to have a firm strategy in place, know the correct market segments to target and have solid competition research to back up your plan.
A3: Again, as with any marketing, if you don’t have a goal and a strategy to achieve it, you’ll fail.
A3) No strategy, choosing the wrong services/products to sell (too many people selling them, wrong fit with you and your site), diluting your trust and branding, trying to sell too many similar products…#semrushchat
A3: Not taking the time to research the correct markets to target. Simple solution, do you market and competitor research first!#semrushchat
With regular marketing campaigns being extremely personalized and targeted, your affiliate marketing strategy can be no less. ‘Relevance’ is key to win. So, do your target audience research well and segment them right – instead of spraying them all with the content you need to sell. If you are not sure what is going to work, just test it out! Compare products and strategy and see which works best for you and how your audience like it. The more relevant your product is, the higher the chances of winning their trust and encouraging them to convert.
A3: Well, the first one is a pet peeve of mine when people blow up your newsfeed with “How wants to learn how to make” I’m not a big fan of that. I don’t think people test and compare products they promote. #semrushchat
A3. Not microtargeting. Golf example: I found more success marketing “Callaway Drivers for left-handers” than just “Golf Drivers”. Sometimes, starting too broad will work against you. #semrushchat
A3: The biggest mistake is not having a strategy in place. You need to know how you’re going to use affiliate marketing and you have to be willing to experiment to see what gets you the best results. #semrushchat
Picking the Right Product to Sell
By understanding your target audience (with all the research and testing you have been doing), you will automatically know whether you have chosen the right product to pitch to them or not. Choosing products that are too similar, promoting services only because they give you a higher cut may not work out well for you in the long term. The key to affiliate marketing is winning your audience’s trust – which will clearly not be successful if it does not add value or inspire confidence in your audience.
– Not disclosing that you’re an affiliate. It’s manipulating people who trust us.
– Promoting products and services that aren’t relevant.
– Promoting cheap-quality services just because they pay well. Exploiting influence for the sake of money. #SEMRushChat
Choosing the Right Program
It would be really tempting to go for a lower percentage in competitive niches. However, the problem with that is it will not pay you well and will be a huge loss – despite the efforts you put in. So pick a program or a niche that pays well right off the bat.
A3. Biggest mistake is going for low % in the most competitive niches. Hotels for example i tried that at the start and it was a nightmare. Try and find something that pays well like @BeRushAffiliate you cant beat 40% recurring monthly #SEMrushchat
Having Attribution in Place
To put it quite succinctly – your revenue ultimately depends on how many leads you bring in. If you cannot track them, that is money lost. Have the right tracking and analytics in place. Not only will it help you keep track of your audience, but also help you understand their behavior and show you what you can tweak to get better results.
A3: 1) Not doing it,
2) Doing it with ill will,
3) Doing it stupidly,
4) Doing it with grey content,
5) Rely too much on few channels,
6) Not having a strategy to grow top line,
7) Analytics disasters
Q4. What is the biggest thing that can hold beginner affiliate marketers back?
The biggest thing is the attitude – the underlying fear of ‘Can it work for me?’ ‘ Will I be able to do it?’ or worse ‘what will people think?’. A lot of times, the trepidation could be because of lack of followers or not having enough thought leadership capital in the niche segment to attract visitors.
A4) The Attitude! ⚡️
Not believing in oneself that they can also earn money online like many others. Not just pennies, but really big bucks which could give financial freedom.
Once they start believing that “they can”, it will happen.
A4: Fear of jumping in and making a name, being successful.
A4 Fear ….. just take the leap of faith and put in the time to do it #semrushchat
A4: (1/2)Externally, it’s dealing with outside pressure, from people being skeptical about your choice since real affiliate marketing has a bad name thanks to pyramid schemes, we can see why. #semrushchat
A4) Poor numbers – website traffic, fans, email list members, social media followers#semrushchat
A4: Not being very well known in their niche & therefore haven’t built up the trust of the target audience. #semrushchat
A4. Trust & Branding are 2 factors that hold beginners back.Traffic is secondary but you need to build trust so that it helps users to make their decisions. #SEMrushchat
Unfortunately, you cannot find out unless you take the plunge! Start out with the right attitude, stop waiting for the ‘right’ scheme to come along and get going.
A4: Hesitation to choose a program in the hope that something better will come up. #SEMRushChat
Another big problem is not putting in enough or consistent effort – in terms of audience research or learning from every bit of traffic you win. Track, learn, improvise, and get the right tools to help you out. Pinching and scraping on the tool or being lazy about your strategy is a definite recipe for failure.
A4: Not tracking and improvising. On a flip side doing too much it these in efforts to get rich fast. #SEMrushchat
A4 not doing the research and hard work to make it happen. If you just sling up a couple of tweets and a Facebook post with an affiliate link it ain’t going to work. Need to plan out what you are going to do and how much time you are going to spend on it.#SEMRushChat
A4. Not using the right tools to do research, competitor analysis or thinking cheap. Get yourself a nice domain, good hosting and the right tools to do the job properly. That way you stand a chance #SEMrushchat
Finally, ensure that you select the right niche to market in. As already mentioned – it should have high business value. But, more importantly, it should be something you genuinely believe in. If you do not have the conviction or faith in the product or service, the audience will know. There is no way you can inspire the same in them. Also, if you pick the wrong segment, it will make it that much harder for you to be enthusiastic and consistent in your efforts.
A4 Also not believing in the product or service – people will quickly see through you. Choose the right affiliate schemes for the things you really like and will be an advocate for. Choosing the wrong ones will depress you.
A4: (2/2) Internally, it can be because of the niche selection, audience, but the biggest problem I’ve seen is lack of CRO within their campaign.#SEMrushchat
Q5. What do you think is next for affiliate marketing? Do you think there will be any changes to the way we do it?
Customer behavior and buying patterns are evolving constantly – affiliate marketing will too – and you will need to keep up if you want to be successful.
✅ Regulatory compliances like affiliate disclosure will have an impact over time.
✅ Using outdated tools are already impacting the sales for many.
✅ See how marketplaces like @impactradius are using #Fingerprinting technique.
Since mobile devices are becoming more popular, using interactive content that is mobile friendly is a must-have.
Content call to action button is evolving as users have started taking more actions on mobile devices.
Focusing on interactive content and using tables, clever use of spacing is the way to go.
As a trend, people look to affiliate marketers as more of a helping hand in making a purchase decision. While they are already searching the internet and compiling their research, they look for added value from the affiliate marketers than what is already available in these channels.
Therefore, a winning strategy should fulfill three aspects:
1. Attract attention using creative methods – Eg. Podcasts.
2. Providing honest and strategic information that adds value.
3. Great quality product.
A5: Many still rely on search engines or specific platforms. As these engines/platforms are going in to take the share of the pie themselves affiliates needs to be more creative.
A5. Marketing changes and there are new ways to drive traffic to sites, but affiliate marketing itself doesnt. You just need to be creative and think of ways to get people on the site. And keep up with the latest trends #semrushchat
A5: More businesses in nice areas, using affiliation as a promotional tool.
Looking at one for live broadcasts, with hardware & software in the VT #semrushchat@semrush@denharsh
A5-b: Affiliates are usually the ones taking “advantage” of “new” technologies. So giving helping hand using chat-bots – or even great tools like Discourse, using mobile (& voice) to turn high CRO and perfecting video would be few things many still forget. #SEMrushchat
A5 While there are celebs there will always be the opportunity for Affiliate schemes – nothing really will change other than practices / methods as affiliate marketing teams get creative and youtubers get desperate. #SEMRushChat
A5: People are wary of sellers. Most people nowadays rely on their own research even if the service is recommended by someone they trust. So the quality of products will matter more than ever. #SEMRushChat
Ultimately, as with any marketing strategy, affiliate marketing is also about adding value and helping the customer make a buying decision. It is about building a relationship with your leads, emerging as a thought leader and thus encouraging the leads to convert. It will not be possible without knowing the pulse of your audience, thoroughly understanding the digital space and of course having a firm grasp of the pros and cons of the product you sell.
That is all for today! Make sure to join us this Wednesday to discuss “Launching, Managing & Measuring the Value of Social Media” with special guest, Kendall Bird!